Play it Forward Zambia (PFZ) in conjunction with long-term partner, TackleAfrica, hosted a long awaited sexual and reproductive health football tournament on Saturday 31st October 2020 at Mulwani football ground. Thirteen girls and boys teams from various communities in Livingstone participated in the tournament.
The tournament is a culmination of ten weeks of work by peer educators from PFZ, trained by Edson Sialutaba (TackleAfrica) who delivered sexual and reproductive sessions to over 422 young people within communities around Livingstone. The sessions utilised football drills and games to teach the participants on proper and consistent condom use, access to family planning and abuse support and prevention services, STI awareness, promoting HIV testing and STI screening.
Four under 14 boys’ teams, four girls’ teams and five under 17 boys’ teams participated in the tournament. The 20 peer educator coaches who had volunteered their time over the last 10 weeks were awarded course completion certificates.
The teams represented Dambwa, Libuyu, Maramba, Nakatani and Maloni communities. Play it Forward won both the girls’ under 14 and under 17 boys’ categories while Young Maramba beat Seattle United in the under 14 category after a tense penalty shoot-out final.
The purpose of the tournament was to drive-up access to health services. Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) and Chreso provided HIV screening and testing. They also provided referrals for any of the participants interested in other services such as STI screening and family planning. The services were provided not only to the participants but to the spectators too.
Tackle Africa and Play it Forward Zambia have worked closely for two years now and this tournament represented a strengthening of this partnership that is going into the third year.
‘Information on sexual and reproductive health and rights saves lives. The more constraints young people face in accessing information, the more we risk an upsurge of new HIV infections, AIDS-related deaths and HIV-related stigma and discrimination.’
The project is in line with one of the three PiFZ strategic outcomes, aiming to improve health and wellbeing for young people in Zambia. The project also responds to Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aspires to ensure health and wellbeing for all, including a bold commitment to end the epidemics of AIDS by 2030.
PiFZ is optimistic about the growth and evolution of the programme, which in the third year will work with the Livingstone Women’s District League to bring sexual and reproductive health training through football to the over 500 girls (aged 15-24) participating in that league.